John Gavazzoni
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He Never Left - Part Five
By John Gavazzoni

The relationship of the church - as defined by the apostle Paul particularly - to creation is profound. I emphasize THAT church in contradistinction to its institutional knock-off (if you're not familiar with that expression, it describes a cheap imitation of the original thing).

To have even a minimal insight into the "real thing,"requires a theological restructuring of our perception of reality akin to the latest scientific inquiry into the macro and micro nature of time, space and matter. But what does that have to do with the subject of this series of articles?

It has much to do with the subject, for if Jesus' "going away" was not a journey measurable in light years through space to a location within the cosmos - measurable in physical terms, and an event external to the church's existence, but rather a matter of sublime, personal relationship, then His leaving and concurrent coming, demand of us to put aside childish thinking and be prepared to be confronted with that concerning which "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man - - -“

The confrontation of revelation for this child of God has not always come when pondering the meaning of a portion of scripture, but by contrast to that more traditionally respected mode, been initiated by the Spirit of truth, at least at my conscious level, with intuitive subjectivity leading to objective and cognitive structuring of understanding within a biblical context.

In other words, as often as not, it has been for me, an experience intrinsic to "a personal relationship with Jesus Christ," as opposed to an academic relationship with the Book, though to be sure, it has always followed that the same Spirit of Truth would confirm revelatory insight with biblical support.

It was just that way for me as I, in a contemplative state of mind, sat at the little table in our family room, right beside the very large picture window where we usually have our meals. From that vantage point, we look out from our townhouse at a delightful natural setting full of various kinds of trees, plants and flowers, and the fascinating activities of many of God's little critters, and a dozen or so species of birds intermingling with many tree and ground squirrels who I call the Lord's acrobats.

Jan, my wife, has cultivated the fringe around our patio area, so that what is within the fenced enclosure, blends nicely with that just beyond. She feeds the birds and squirrels regularly so that we have our own little outdoor aviary, and squirrel-only animal park. Duke, our German Shepherd loves to bolt out the back door and give the squirrels a daily scare and let them know, that in his view of things, they're trespassing on his territory. He does so with such ferocity that you'd think he was about to attack a menacing intruder of the human sort. I think the squirrels like to tease him by their presence and scurrying about.

That was the scene one day as I sat at that table occupied with something - can't remember just what now - but I'm sure something very mundane like writing checks to pay bills, when I was caught up into that contemplative mood, and found myself paying more than my usual attention to the scene I've described above. I was enjoying that scenic blessing with more attentiveness than usual, taking it all in when I heard the whisper of the Spirit say,"You know, all that you're seeing out there is really in you."

Well, I'll tell you, that was an attention-grabber. It's not that I don't have a little bit of a mystical bent to my mental temperament, but that intrusion into my thought processes, penetrating past and well beyond the rational sentries that guard us from out and out craziness, belonged to a special category among those Spirit-of-Truth disturbances that have periodically left me in a state of wonderment.

I have shared that experience with a few brothers and sisters in the Lord, and I can't recall ever getting a negative reaction, but surprisingly so, even on the part of those of a scholarly bent, the response I received was always on a scale ranging from respectful and thoughtful consideration, all the way to spontaneous agreement and confirmation, as if my sharing effected a clarification of a word already in their hearts.

We know that - as properly translated - Paul asserts that "IN Him (Christ) were all things created," not as conventionally translated "by Him." All things were created, and continue to exist within the sphere of Christ. This was written by Paul after the Christ, as Jesus, by death, resurrection and glorification, had become the enlarged Christ of the new covenant administration of God.

The personhood-singularity of Christ as Jesus of Nazareth has been transformed into a personhood expansion whereby He has become the life and identity of many formed into the One New Man of God's desire - the expansion, increase/growth, complement and completion by multiplication of all that the Son of God is. As Paul reminded the church in Corinth, a body is made up of many members, and, conversely, all those members are one body, but his allusion to such a simple fact was for the purpose of making the profound point that - "so also IS Christ."

Humanity began as/in one man, Adam, and though reproduced as many individuals, without losing that individuality, consummates itself as One New Man, the man who was stripped of death's oldness by death, to arise in newness of life as the life of the many who are One. This singular humanity "is Christ," the Christ IN WHOM ALL THINGS EXIST.

Our physical senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste are presently not able to translate this reality to our understanding. What we see, smell, touch, hear and taste as so apparently external to us is really within us. We have much to realize yet as to the extent of our misperception of reality.

To reference the theology of Paul again, he calls us - particularly the believing community, but also, by implication, the whole of humanity which shall be brought to the faith of Christ - as God's husbandry (God's planting, God's tillage). You see, the picture given to us in Genesis of a garden within which God placed the first man and woman, was to be understood when once we get beyond childish perception, as a garden within us, and a garden which we ARE. We are "God's husbandry - - God's building."

Please, dear reader, pay special attention to the following succinct summary: The fulness of the Godhead is bodily within Christ, and He is within us, and all creation is within Him, so all creation is within us! The apostle speaks of the church which is His (Christ's) body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all." So where did Jesus go away to? He didn't go away to anywhere external to us, but deeper and deeper, and further and further, and higher and higher into all that He is in the Father, taking us with Himself. The Christ event is within us, not external to us.

What we see as external to us is really a projection of the immensity, majesty, grandeur, beauty, varietal complexity and glory of our together-identity in Christ. Through it (creation/the natural world) at present is afflicted by elements of impurity and ugliness alien to the essential purity and beauty of the being that we have in Him, we can still see in nature about us how wonderful we are as God's finished work in Christ.

This calls for us to rethink the nature of Christ's ascension into heaven, and in that rethinking, given the sovereignly-imposed limitations of our in-part speaking, thinking, and understanding, we ought not be surprised to find ourselves face to face with a reality that cannot be fully translated to us until the Lord releases us from all the limitation and corruption of perception we presently endure. Surely, most surely, we shall come to know as He knows, to know as we are known, and that will be to know as perfect love knows, and to perceive as love perceives. To see through the eyes of love's inclusiveness - this is the "that which is perfect" that awaits us.

Go to this series: Part One, Part Two, Part Three or Part Four, Part Five

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